11/9/2011 BoaB: "Poisonous"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Building on a Budget, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Gee thanks, like I needed to play against more poison decks. Every time I lose to one, I scream Maro's name in frustration and horror.
Not trying to drift from the original topic at hand, but is there a more budget-friendly option to....well, most of the deck? It seems like Inkmoth Nexus's are $20 a pop, with Skithiryx at around $10, the P. Crusaders about $8, and the Lashwrithes rounding out the "high cost" curve at about $5.

Or is that not possible with an infect-based deck?
Two things to say. First:
This deck is remarkably similar to the Phyrexian Crusade deck in the article "Knight of the Living Dead" from just a month ago. I guess that's because there isn't a lot of variety to what you can play in Monoblack Infect, and it's not like we've gotten any new cards for the archetype, it being Scars-only and all.

But second is in response to this:
I feel compelled to speak for a moment about this deck's "budget-ness." It's very difficult right now to build a worthwhile Constructed deck without at least some number of cards that are relatively difficult to acquire. I've made a conscious decision to value the quality of my decks over their accessibility. The decklists I present are still significantly easier to find the cards for than other mainstream decks. Most importantly, these decks are very capable of winning tournaments and letting you have a good time while playing and learning the tenets of deck building. These decks still qualify as budget. Budget is a subjective concept, and I feel it's unreasonable to give it a concrete value.

It's nice that you (finally) replied to the feedback you've been getting every week for as long as I've been reading this column. Unfortunately, you chose to respond by dismissing it. What really annoys me is your refusal to quantify what you consider budget, as that would vastly improve the column and head off a lot of the haters.

I post this to say that you've lost at least one reader in your refusal to heed the feedback, instead of just replying to it. Good bye.
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Skithiryx doesn't strike me as all that essential to the deck.... I'd spend the money for the Nexus's though, it's a very strong card. You can probably use it in many different decks over the next year to get your money's worth. On the other hand you could probably find an decent replacement for the Crusader, it's essentially a Black Knight with infect (and pro-red). Lashwirthe is one of the key cards in the deck though, so you'll probably be needing them.

On a seperate point, Is it just me or does the deck have a strange amount of singletons? it's not a toolbox deck, since there's no way of pulling out the appropriate tool, so the numbers seem very odd to me.
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I, too, am confused by the lots-of-singletons. I'd rather have a more evenly distributed mix of the removal spells anyway. Any why no Tribute to Hunger (or Geth's Verdict) in the sideboard?

I do like the idea of trying out the Trigons (and they seem like they'd be better if you played more Tezzeret's Gambit), and the Curse of Death's Hold is nice tech.

But...due to the way that formats tend to morph...what would you suggest to avoid Oops, Lose to Control other than sticking Whispering Specter?
Not trying to drift from the original topic at hand, but is there a more budget-friendly option to....well, most of the deck? It seems like Inkmoth Nexus's are $20 a pop, with Skithiryx at around $10, the P. Crusaders about $8, and the Lashwrithes rounding out the "high cost" curve at about $5.

Or is that not possible with an infect-based deck?

As much as I hate to say it, investing into those Inkmoth Nexuses are almost a necessity at this time, being one of two ways of attacking with creatures without having to cast a spell (The other being the more narrow Moorland Haunt).  If you are planning on playing long term and in winning Tournies, picking up one a week isn't too outrageous, and it'll fit in just about every deck you're going to play well into next year.

The Crusader actually is very necessary to this particular deck, too. I wouldn't skimp on those. Although you probably could subsitute the Skithie and Lashwrites for... well.. whatever and Trepanation Blade.
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It's nice to finally get a response to the feedback we've been giving for ages, but "it can't be done" is a bit of a weak response. Just give a possible replacement for each rare or expensive card. It doesn't have to be as strong, it just has to fill the same role. That way, people can decide for themselves what they do and how much they buy.

*sighs*

Personally, I just wish back for the days when Building on a Budget was about more than just Constructed play. That was so much more conducive to long-term building.
76125763 wrote:
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Building on a budget.. if your budget is about $110,00... sheesh.

Please change this Article's name to a more fitting one. This is not building on a budget! not even CLOSE!

Who has $100,00 lying around to build a budget deck?

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...

But second is in response to this:
I feel compelled to speak for a moment about this deck's "budget-ness." It's very difficult right now to build a worthwhile Constructed deck without at least some number of cards that are relatively difficult to acquire. I've made a conscious decision to value the quality of my decks over their accessibility. The decklists I present are still significantly easier to find the cards for than other mainstream decks. Most importantly, these decks are very capable of winning tournaments and letting you have a good time while playing and learning the tenets of deck building. These decks still qualify as budget. Budget is a subjective concept, and I feel it's unreasonable to give it a concrete value.

It's nice that you (finally) replied to the feedback you've been getting every week for as long as I've been reading this column. Unfortunately, you chose to respond by dismissing it. What really annoys me is your refusal to quantify what you consider budget, as that would vastly improve the column and head off a lot of the haters.

I post this to say that you've lost at least one reader in your refusal to heed the feedback, instead of just replying to it. Good bye.


You are being unreasonble, he gave you quality measure of budget instead of quantifyable. Or using the magic demografic, he straigth out told you that he presents/builds budget spike decks instead of budget timmie. He straigth out told you that the competiveness is more important for him than just budget. Then he told us that many of the competive strategies in standard and other formats will exceed what most call budget as many of the cards that makes it competive, is rare/expensive. The last point you can agree or disagree with, but I believe it holds some truth. If you don't want to be competive in standard (obviously his favorite format) then this column isn't for you (anymore) that doesn't make it bad.

That said, I do think his articles could become better. He could try to squees in more budget thinking in them by presenting which expensive cards you swap out and which nonbudget cards you could use if you have them, and perhaps most importantly; which cards you can't swap out. He could also improve the match-reports by showing more of them, showing some where the deck does it's broken stuff and where it falls short and where it's a good/bad metagaming deck. 

I love when he does just that and the articles feels too short without them. I feel that he is rather good at explaining why the decks he presents is good in the metagame, but i often misses to explain why, and why it isn't a good metagaming deck.

If he needed more space for all that, then he could split his articles into two which could also give him a little more room for showing an evolution to a deck.

Upon the actual deck, it seems very good. Not original but with some originality to it, mostly the trigon of rage which is interesting. I believe the deck can become more budget without the crusader and the vatmother (sideboard), but that would obviously come at a great cost for the metagaming.

I know that Niche used the same kind of deck with great results in States so here is what he had to say about the deck [you can find the thread here]:
Show


Sorry for not hammering it out last night but I was mentally wore out from playing some epic battles all day. I didn't sweep any of my opponents and I used some heavy Jedi mind tricks because my deck had some subpar choices. In my defense I built it at midnight Friday night and made some more last minute changes before registering. I also have a 50 hour work week, a wife, and 10 hours of commuting so my play test time is zero. 

Luckily I don't care what anyone says but I'm really damn good at playing mono black and I can slide behind the wheel of any mono black deck and push it to the limits.

Without further ado, the deck:


I'll post the perfectly tuned list at the end of the report.

Round 1: The Suck Pairing. (Mike Handley)
Buddy from my LGS. He plays UB infect control. I won the dice roll and pushed him under with Skithiryx game 1. 
Game 2 he showed me his skithiryx. 
Game 3 I showed him turn 2 stinger, turn 3 whispering, turn 4 lashwrithe onto whispering forcing him to discard 5 and putting 5 infect on him. He drew and scooped.
2-1

Round 2: Burning Vengeance (Another Mike)
Game 1 Details are sketchy but I don't draw into any crusaders or skithiryx and I can't proliferate out the win before he gets double vengeance online and yadda yadda. 
Game 2 I lay out a stinger and whispering specter + lashwrithe him for the 5 infect and hand rip. He cannot find a vengeance. 
Game 3 is close and he pushes me down to 6 but double crusader pushes him under.
2-1

Round 3: Humans splashing blue (Adam)
Game 1 We go back and forth but he's able to play beatdown better than me. I make some bad board decisions because of no testing (and the board wasn't properly set up for this anyway). 
Game 2 he nut draws out Champ into Champ + Traveler into Crusader. Ouphe.
0-2

Round 4: Wolf Run (John Spencer)
Game 1 is an uphill battle the whole way. He had maindeck geistflames because he told me later he'd tested the matchup and knew it was awful. Weird. He crushed me pretty hard because I had no removals and my creatures got outclassed. 
Game 2 I reach for the 8 card board in, Despises and Ghost Quarters. This was an epic battle. I lead off with a Despise and rip a Thrun, noting Slime, 2 Land, Beast, and a Rampant. I didn't note a mulligan on him so maybe this was my turn 2 play and I held back to virulent wound in case he laid a bird. Again, notes aren't really detailed. We do some tough back and forth and I sneak in some infect and begin working to proliferate it up because he's rocking geistflames everywhere and has the beast for crusaders. At the most pivotal moment in the game I'm holding double Doom Blade and move to win with a plague stinger. He activates inkmoth... I blade it. He activates another inkmoth... I blade it. This crushes him badly and puts him at 9 counters. He scoops after flipping a land from the topdeck. 
Game 3 I go inkmoth for a poison on 2, into specter on 3, lashwrithe on 4 for his hand. I win easy from there just ignoring his resolved emissary.
2-1

Round 5: Burning Vengeance (Earnest)
Game 1 I blow him out with crusader carrying a lashwrithe. 
Game 2 he boards in a lot of permission and I cannot get him past 4 poison. 
Game 3 I introduce him to specter into lashwrithe.
2-1

Round 6: Wolf Run (Stephen Strange... I know)
Game 1 I play swamp and pass, he plays forest bird and I virulent wound it. I stick a stinger and then a crusader... he slagstorms to trigger his emissary and solemn.... but draws poorly and when I play the lashwrithe he scoops. 
Game 2 I get him to 5 infect but he gets double primeval titan off the top after I double despise and rip his Garruks. No P-**** in hand. 
Game 3 we shuffle up like mad and present to cut. I shuffle his deck and hand it back. We draw 7. He looks down and picks up 2 cards off the floor. I wasn't sure of the ruling... because I don't play much... but I'm pretty certain I was over 50% to get a game/match win from this. I call the judge because well.. you have to... and he says you guys presented to cut? And we confirm. he game losses the Wolf Run player and that's the match.
2-1

Round 7: WU Aggro (Moe)
With us both being X-1 we check standings and there'sa lot of X-1s... and the consensus no X-1 can draw in. That's brutal. 
Game 1 we race hard but he cannot answer Crusader into lashwrithe. 
Game 2 he has the counter for crusader and lands a Gideon. Mirran Crusader has me on a fast clock. 
Game 3 I've got tributes for his mirran crusaderS and I give him the ole whispering specter + lashwrithe... via postmortem lunge. He struggles to find a blue from there and I finish him quickly. We finished this match in like 20 minutes tops because of how hateful crusaders are for the opposition.
2-1

Quarterfinals: Gavony Tokens (Stephanie)
Poor girl was a nervous wreck. I did my best to calm her down and encourage her to smile but the fact she Top 8'd put her on bad tilt.
Game 1 we have a pretty epic struggle. I race her haunting tokens which are very effective against me and sneak crusader by. I tribute these tokens (which were 4/4s and 5/5s) to keep racing. I work her to 8 infect... she throws out a timely reinforcements which gets parallel lives-ed into 18 power against my 14 life from 2 pump spells. I'm thinking... 'so...'... and she's about to pass turn... but drops an Avacyn's Pilgrim. My crusader looks up at me and says , 'That seems really good right now.' I untap... I've got 4 lands in play, skithiryx in hand, batterskull, and a tezz gambit. What an apt name. I pay 2 and tap 3 to gambit knowing I can rip wound for the pilgrim, or land + blade and win. I rip double land. 
Game 2 I show her my whispering specter + lashwrithe while she's stacking pump spells. I win. 
Game 3 I mull but sneak in some fast infect from Plague Stinger and inkmoth. She taps out for more pumps and I cast Skithiryx with haste. She draws the top card and scoops.
2-1

Semifinals: Humans, splashing Gavony (Zack)
Game 1 We have a good race... losing the details badly here. I get him to 7 infect but he beats me the turn before I could get him. That's how it goes. 
Game 2 I double mulligan to 5. He said to the crowd that he felt pretty good about his hand after that. ****. I showed him whispering specter into lashwrithe and took it from him. Then I activated inkmoth next turn, paid 4 to writhe it and killed him.
Game 3 he unloads his hand quickly, showing a lot of green creatures. That's really good against me. Including double mayors. Which is really good. I doom blade a mayor and use crusaders to whittle down big werewolf... he starts gassing out and I begin inkmothing him carefully. He has a gideon's lawkeeper out and I throw skithiryx down and he panics a bit holding back from swings with a considerable board. I drop a lashwrithe and get ready to finish him handing it to an inkmoth and swinging with both... still need another turn and lashwrithe is a great blocker here. He untaps and crashes in with a considerable amount of pump and hero of bladehold and captains and battle cry and after doing the math for like 3 minutes and considering blocks in multiple ways (big wolf... then hero or captain to first strike away human pumps) I ultimately to the conclusion he has 15 damage for my 15 life after he lawkeepers down my lashwrithe germ. 
1-2

I take a box home and the sweet playmat.

Here's a better deck:
[DECK]
4 Plague Stinger
4 Whispering Specter
4 Phyrexian Crusader
3 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

4 Virulent Wound
3 Tribute to Hunger
3 Doom Blade
4 Tezzeret's Gambit
2 Postmortem Lunge
4 Lashwrithe
1 Phyrexian Metamorph

4 Inkmoth Nexus
20 Swamp

Sideboard
4 Despise
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Sever the Bloodline
3 Surgical Extraction[/DECK]

The basic premise post board in this deck is now critical to your ability to determine if you're the beatdown or the control deck. Once you establish that you can determine if you need to bring in removal for faster decks... or disruption for slower decks. Once you know that the boarding gets easy and determining keep-able hands becomes trivial.

TL;DR, neener neener S1.


 
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I support BoaB decision to define "budget" as "cheap compared to other competitive decks in the format" and not as an arbitrary $ limit. The goal is to win tournaments, not to make casual decks. If the deck is too expensive for you, complain to Wizards for making Standard too expensive.

That being said, mono-black Infect is fairly straightforward so today's column didn't teach me much. Looking forward to next week's more creative brew.
It's nice to finally get a response to the feedback we've been giving for ages, but "it can't be done" is a bit of a weak response. Just give a possible replacement for each rare or expensive card. It doesn't have to be as strong, it just has to fill the same role. That way, people can decide for themselves what they do and how much they buy.



I can understand this sentiment, but there are some cards in Standard that simply can't be replaced. What would fill the slot of Inkmoth Nexus in this deck? I've seen some pretty budget control or UR decks based, but even they break the "budget" because they call for Snapcaster Mage, and there's simply no other card that can replace Snapcaster. 

Nevermind the price i like your decks are clever and nice to play
Basically the column is just a notice board for more rogue decks. They're good, better depending on the pilot, and they aren't as expensive because (obviously) they're not the best, by definition.

It just doesn't interest me all that much. I can check the rogue decks out any time I want on Magic Online's Deck of the Week feature. I can type in whatever card is central to any of the obvious rogue ideas and find a few hits per page, and there's 20 pages.

Anyway, I think the article would receive more clout for being innovative. I don't mean you have to break the format every week, but you could at least try stuff that's unheard of. Spider Spawning, Undead Alchemist, Black Weenie aggro, Big Red, Past in Flames, Mirror Mad Maniac.dek, garaging the Event Decks, some random BR Control stuff you had an idea about from a draft, etc.

It's stuff like that that the memberbase is looking into. We check out certain cards and we just wish so hard there was a way to play it with justice at an FNM, but we're either like many of us who don't know where to start, or we're like me and simply don't have the time to mess with every single cool idea I've thought about or talked about at locals.

But you do have time for that. I think you'd catch a lot less heat if you tried to hit some more of the fun ideas lurking in T2 that nobody tries because it doesn't run 4 Snapcaster or it runs Inexorable Tide, stuff like that. As a player, you'll get the challenge of finding a good angle for a deck. As a fried, you'll get to see the hope and excitement from players who didn't think it could be done (like how Serious Fun goes down on a weekly basis). And as deckmaker, you'll get some respect for thinking outside the box constantly.

Anyway, rant is just for future suggestions. Take some more chances with your deck ideas. You already do so sometimes, why not make it all the time?
Hi im pretty not happy from this article this week you take a infect deck with it a optimal to downgrade him and say hey its a budget deck. i begin to say im going to read other article due that you downgrade a archetype for a budget one , we don't want that we want a deck with a card that nobody see hes true power and put in into a restricted amount of buget that what we want read not a deck you downgrade. some of your idea you make like (curse of stalked prey, phyrexian suicide) was a true built cost nothing to make and get a good ratio about win and lose

Anyway, I think the article would receive more clout for being innovative. I don't mean you have to break the format every week, but you could at least try stuff that's unheard of. Spider Spawning, Undead Alchemist, Black Weenie aggro, Big Red, Past in Flames, Mirror Mad Maniac.dek, garaging the Event Decks, some random BR Control stuff you had an idea about from a draft, etc.

It's stuff like that that the memberbase is looking into. We check out certain cards and we just wish so hard there was a way to play it with justice at an FNM, but we're either like many of us who don't know where to start, or we're like me and simply don't have the time to mess with every single cool idea I've thought about or talked about at locals.

But you do have time for that. I think you'd catch a lot less heat if you tried to hit some more of the fun ideas lurking in T2 that nobody tries because it doesn't run 4 Snapcaster or it runs Inexorable Tide, stuff like that. As a player, you'll get the challenge of finding a good angle for a deck. As a fried, you'll get to see the hope and excitement from players who didn't think it could be done (like how Serious Fun goes down on a weekly basis). And as deckmaker, you'll get some respect for thinking outside the box constantly.

Anyway, rant is just for future suggestions. Take some more chances with your deck ideas. You already do so sometimes, why not make it all the time?

Why doesn't he do that? Because he is competitive. His Spike-ness defines him as a player. Trying original stuff like what you suggest inevitably leads to mostly decks that lose more games than they win when facing the metagame decks, and in Jacob's view of deckbuilding and Magic, this is unacceptable. If he adopted such a process, maybe once a year, if very lucky, he could find a truly competitive, truly budget, AND truly rogue deck, but that's wishful thinking.

Past incarnations of BOAB were about semi-competitive decks for playing in casual circles, which was fine in its own right, and I admit, more entertaining to read. That style fit the previous columnists. But Jacob Van Lunen, a Pro Tour competitor, does not want to stomp noobs who play unpolished decks in the casual room, and he does not show up in the competitive room with something he has no confidence in. That's not the kind of player he is.

In my view, the column shifted from something entertaining to something useful for tournament competitors. I can see room for both of those things on this site. Keeping the same column name was the true mistake, because the content has become something completely different, and saying it's the same column when it really isn't could not help but provoking comparisons for years on end.
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1st thing I'd like to mention is that this deck as it stands currently is not what I personally would consider budget.  It is considered budget when you consider that this deck is ~$100 as it stands, and most of the rest of the decks in the format are $300+

That being said, its not terribly hard to modify this deck to be ~$50 or so, which i think is pretty dang good, while still being competative.  Taking out the inkmoths alone gets you down to about that level.  The deck still works without the inkmoths, its just one more way to win.  You've still got plenty of evasive infect guys to swing in.

There are almost always alternatives to make tier 1 decks budget friendly.  some are much easier and more effective than others. 

And while we're on the budget discussion, the most important part of playing on a budget is determining how and where to invest your $$.
Inkmoths are super important to the meta right now, so why not go on ebay (or wherever) and buy the Rot from Within event deck?  They are running around $18 (~ the price for an inkmoth) and you get an inkmoth, green sun's zenith, and a few other rares (not to mention Melira, which shuts down mono b infect). 

if you want to mirran crusaders, why not pick up 2 of the Hold the Line event decks?  You're then sitting quite well with 4 crusaders, 8 oblivion rings, 2 champions, 2 inquisitors, 2 nevermores.  Honestly you're retarted setup for a solid white deck there, with ~$40 investment.  or you have solid trades for more of what you want. 

Its all about finding ways to make every $ you spend count. 

Past incarnations of BOAB were about semi-competitive decks for playing in casual circles, which was fine in its own right, and I admit, more entertaining to read. That style fit the previous columnists. But Jacob Van Lunen, a Pro Tour competitor, does not want to stomp noobs who play unpolished decks in the casual room, and he does not show up in the competitive room with something he has no confidence in. That's not the kind of player he is.

In my view, the column shifted from something entertaining to something useful for tournament competitors. I can see room for both of those things on this site. Keeping the same column name was the true mistake, because the content has become something completely different, and saying it's the same column when it really isn't could not help but provoking comparisons for years on end.


Hear that?  That's the sound of the nail being hit right on the head.

I've been reading BoaB for years, and to be frank, what Jacob Van Lunen has been doing is not really true to the spirit of the column.  Making a tournament deck with sub-optimal parts (some still expensive) has never been what this column is about.  Neither is justifying their inclusion by saying that they make the deck competitive.  My favorite BoaB articles were from the Ben Bleiweiss era, where he experimented with largely overlooked rares, formulating fun casual decks with truly inexpensive engines.  In fact, if you look at some of the old columns, you'll see that Ben even ruled out cards that were too expensive, truly keeping to a set budget even at the expense of the deck's effectiveness.  While he noted what cards would be optimal in the event that a reader wanted to bling out their budget deck, he never actually used them for the column's playtests.  While budget is indeed subjective, Jacob Van Lunen's shifting goalposts of "whatever will make this constructed-viable" make it far too easy just to build expensive, effective decks, which has never been what this column was about.  If you want to keep doing that (which there is definitely an audience for), change the column's name to something else.

Beyond the content, let's compare the column structure itself.  Ben Bleiweiss columns were often quite wordy, per his writing style, and showed real idea progression.  The decks evolved over multiple playtests against different players, including some true casuals who you'd never see on Pro Tours, often resulting in complete overhauls of a deck's engine, and sudden epiphanies.  The games were explained, and you got a real sense of what it was like to play these games against random opponents, as well as the general flow and effectiveness of key cards in different matchups.  One great example is the article about Dissension's Hellbent precon, which Ben modified, ultimately learning through various casual games that it worked better without the mechanic at all.  I got a real sense of the deckbuilding process by seeing the idea, then the supporting cards, and then the sideboarding and substitutions in reaction to different field tests.

Here, there are two games against one opponent, prefaced with:
I've played a lot of matches with this deck, but I'd like to share how it plays against Green-White tokens because that's the most commonly played deck on Magic Online.


I know that it's more work to actually explain what happened in those other games, as well as sideboarding and fine-tuning.  But writing a column is work - you get paid to put forth the effort.  Falling victim to The Matrix: Reloaded's formula of "explain, don't show" is just poor narrative, and extremely unengaging to read.  Furthermore, it offers no real context and insight into how consistent the deck plays, nor into possible areas for improvement.  Just hastily writing it up with:
This deck performs incredibly well against green Wolf Run decks, red decks, token-based strategies, and the mirror. The deck has trouble with Birthing Pod decks, Blue-Black Control, and some Solar Flare variants.


is neither insightful, nor educational as we are presented with no evidence of this statement.  It's not even a theory, it's a statement.

Now don't get me wrong - this is not to say Jacob Van Lunen is not a fantastic Magic player.  This is not to say he's a terrible writer.  And not to say there is no value in what he does, because there is.  I'm just a longtime fan of the game, the column, and true budget decks calling for a change.  The direction this column is headed is not true to the spirit of BoaB, and should no longer be called Building on a Budget.  If Wizards wants to keep this column going, it needs a true pioneer who can make the most out of $0.99 rares, with fresh ideas and the willingness to spend extra time showing how a deck works, rather than just telling you it does.  There's room for what Jacob Van Lunen does here, but this column is not a good fit for it.  Refer to the quote from earlier in the post - just change the name, or get someone else to take over BoaB.
I agree and said as much in previous feedback for this article. This is still a good article and while Jacob's style is minimalist, there are advantages to that. He is straight to the point and he brings us some excellent decks.

The issue is the column he is writing is basically 'Going rogue', not 'BoaB'.

I too enjoyed the Bleiwiss era, mostly because Bleiwiss came in knowing that JMS was an incredibly hard act to follow and he really WORKED to win us over. It made him very likeable and it got me very invested in the decks. While he didn't do exactly the same stuff as JMS there was a clear thread between them and they set the tone for BoaB.

Jacob doesn't follow this tone at all, let's be real here. He doesn't want to build budget casual decks. He wants to highlight less expensive rogue standard decks. Stuff you can win tournaments with without killing yourself financially. Rogue decks are, by their very nature, going to be cheaper, because the cards are less in demand. Honestly the fact these decks are comparatively budget strikes me as a coincidence stemming from their rogue nature, not what the author is actually interested in.

Good article but it isn't BoaB, it has actually tended more away from the BoaB spirit over time not towards it (as some hoped it would). Could we please get the old BoaB back too? It was always very popular you know. People loved reading the reports of the games and getting invested in the slowly evolving decks. They loved providing suggestions for more obscure budget cards to go in.
I agree it is time to assess what this article is trying to be.

Building on a Budget is clearly a misnomer. Subjective is one thing, but it dilutes the integrity of the column when the only cards which are excluded are, say, the 20 or so most expensive cards in the format, which I feel is kind of where the article now sits. There are 1041 cards in standard, according to Gatherer, a number which will rise. Building a deck using 'only' 1021 of those cards is not really putting any meaningful limitations on what you can build with.

However, there is definitely something rogue-ish about the column that appeals, and 'Rogue Decks' I think is a column that would get a lot of traffic.

Is there space for a $5-per-card-limit 'budget' deck column out as well? Perhaps, but regardless I think it is time to decide which column Jacob's column needs to be because I think he has something that appeals to deck builders but which is falling between two stools in its current incarnation.

By the way, I think it is a sad inditement of Modern Magic that the current author of building on a budget feels that it is no longer viable to do so without using expensive cards as well.
Well, I do have a greivance. BoaB has always been one of my favorite articles to read every week. Always. I was skeptical when JvL took over but he has had some quality articles. My biggest problem is that it should be titled "Building Metagame Decks" rather than "Building on a Budget". You see when you attack the metagame by noticing trends like a prevalence of red decks or a dearth of U/b Control you will be using cheaper cards because you are using a strategy that either hasn't proven itself or hasn't had a chance to be good yet.

These "Metagame Attack" decks are cheaper because they are not tier 1. However, I believe building on a Budget should be so much more. You could feature:

-Intro Deck Evolutions (or more your style, Event Deck Evolutions)
These decks are obviously already designed to a certain degree, but they can always be improved and adjusted to attack the metagame on a budget. Telling someone to add 3 inkmoth nexi to a deck with 1 is hardly advice. Intro decks especially provide a great jumping off point into a strategy. I'd love to see at least one evolution whenever a new set comes out.


-Build decks where no single card costs more than X (where X is $5 or maybe $10). 
-Build deck where the total cost of the deck is less than Y (where Y is $25 or maybe $50).
These decks would be easy for a large portion of your audience to actually build/trade for every week and could even be the jumping off point for a tier-2 competitive deck. Even if a deck costs over $100, if no card is more than $5 it can be easy to trade for the cards to build it and play it. I'd love to see a deck with a specific monetary constraint at least once a month. 


-Pauper or Peasant Decks
To be fair, JvL has done pauper decks a couple times. But this is a great format that is, pretty much by definition, within peoples' budgets. That's what the point of the format is - within this budgetary restriction, be spikey. I'd love to see Pauper highlighted once a month.

 
-Build a deck where the highlight is a draft/sealed archtype. 
A deck like this would take a draft/sealed archtype and evolve it into something more competitive. You could even start with a real draft or sealed pool that you had! I love taking home my prerelease decks and tweaking them into something more competitive and there are tons of synergies and combos you could highlight. It also cross-pollinates into limited play. I'd love to see this when a new set comes out. 


-Build block decks or decks with specific constraints on what sets are allowed. 
Basically, restrict yourself in some way from just typing about Standard. Block decks are usually fairly budget anyway, though I'd impose an additional monetary budget since many standard decks are just block decks. But what about trying to build a deck with the last 2 sets and an M set only. Like NPH, M12, and Innistrad. What could you come up with? Obviously it won't be something to break into the PT with, but you could play your friends, take it to FNM or even encourage other people to play in your own "format". I'd love to see something like this every once in a while.


JvL you're a talented writer and an accomplished magic player. Frankly I can read about most of the decks you write about on a lot of other websites (Chapin was talking about Mono-Black Infect a couple weeks ago, for instance). I can read about Standard on a ton of other websites. I can even read about rogue Tier-2 Metagame Attack decks on a variety of websites. But most websites do not have a column dedicated to playing magic on a Budget. That's because it's an artificial constraint that almost always directly hampers your ability to be competitive. But you can still have a lot of fun with it. Please take some of my ideas into consideration. Thank you.
Honestly, this is probably the hardest column on the site to write. Because, unlike most columns which focus on a particular aspect that players enjoy from the game, this one is completely focused on what prevents players from enjoying the game - the cost.

But you have to realise, this column isn't about building cheap decks - you can throw 60 Islands in a pile, and have a "cheap deck". This article is about minimising costs, while building worthwhile decks. The trouble arises when the writer's definition of "worthwhile" does not coincide with the readers'. It's been pretty obvious that the column's author is decidedly Spike - that he considers "competitive" and "worthwhile" synonymous; unfortunately, it's been made clear by the more vocal portion of the readership, that they don't agree.

Thus the second complication for this column: Building on a Budget is not only going to attract budget-minded Spikes, but budget-minded Johnnies and Timmies as well - I've seen suggestions in this thread alone that indicate both, asking for more innovation, or a more casual focus. Every psychographic has their own dedicated weekly column on the site - but Building on a Budget we share.

Is it fair to expect one author to write toward three distinct audiences? Is it fair to expect him to appeal to audiences that he's obviously not a part of, and whose values obviously differ from his own? I suppose it's fair to ask him to try, but you have to realise the difficulty in accomplishing it; every other author on the site writes columns specifically aimed at those readers to whom they are similar, and who value similar things. It's fair to request some extra attention for those other demographics, but just keep in mind just how tall of an order that is.

Hopefully JVL will realise the position that running this column puts him in, and - however awkward that position is - do as much as he can to accomodate it. I know he's just doing what feels most natural to him, and to be fair he is writing articles that retain the essential premise of the column; he's simply not appealing to as large an audience as is initially enticed by the prospect of 'budget' deckbuilding. I do suspect that given the feedback he's receiving, he'll try to make a few adjustments - but keep your expectations reasonable, because a perfect column (and again, I believe this column is much harder to 'get right' than the others on this site) isn't fair to expect, and it's not going to happen any time soon...

JVL, 

Please, please focus on the budget part of your column.   There are many resources that this and other websites have that focus on top tier competitive decks that cost $100 plus to build.  There are even several places to read about rogue decks that are less expensive, but still competitive.  This is the one place that ostensibly focuses on building inexpensive decks.


Please respect the limitations of players who choose to read a column called "Building on a Budget".  A budget is a pre-established limit of expenditures.  Even if you have to redefine what the budget is for each week, please offer decks that are accessible to players with real financial limitations.  If you can’t do that consistently, then perhaps it would be more honest to change the name of the column.

You may have “made a conscious decision to value the quality of [your] decks over their accessibility.”  I and others like me are asking you to rethink that decision.

I feel compelled to speak for a moment about this deck's "budget-ness." It's very difficult right now to build a worthwhile Constructed deck without at least some number of cards that are relatively difficult to acquire. I've made a conscious decision to value the quality of my decks over their accessibility. The decklists I present are still significantly easier to find the cards for than other mainstream decks. Most importantly, these decks are very capable of winning tournaments and letting you have a good time while playing and learning the tenets of deck building. These decks still qualify as budget. Budget is a subjective concept, and I feel it's unreasonable to give it a concrete value.


I appreciate this enormously, Jacob.  If I'm going to read an article about a possible deck, I'd definitely prefer that it be a deck that is at least halfway decent, and can put up a fight against the tier decks that I may run into at my local FNM.  I don't need help making crappy decks - I can do that fine on my own.  If I don't own some of the cards that you suggest, then I can find my own budget replacements for them.  I'd much rather have an idea of what the deck should ideally look like, rather than be presented a crappy version, and try to guess where I could pay money to make it better.

Keep up the good work.
The deck's cost is only part of the reason I dislike this article, there's also the fact that it's completely unoriginal. Everybody who runs mono-black poison is basically running exactly this list. If he wanted to make a budget version of it, go ahead, but he didn't. He just picked the cheapest deck people are actually playing already and told us "play that one."
Right, he posts the stuff after tier 1. He focuses on the cheaper decks in the format that are getting there. But that's honestly too easy. I probably even have the time to do what he does. I can go on Decks of the Week, find something interesting, load it up, and test it a few times... Writing about it would be all too easy.

If you really want to build on a budget, you don't look at a great deck and downsize it. You take it in a different direction where the alternatives are stronger than what you left behind. It takes a different thought process entirely.

And building based on an unheard of idea from scratch is often the best way to start. 
This was an interesting article. I find it funny that you talk up the Curse as a huge tool to beat expected decks, and this deck would have a hard time beating a curse too. The strategy to bait the hero was nice to learn.

As for the budget thing, maybe the series should be called 'Competing on a Budget'.
Mr. Van Lunen,

For a moment, I'd like to focus on one paragraph in your article:

Speaking of Inkmoth Nexus, I've chosen to play four of them in this deck. The Inkmoth Nexus give this deck a huge amount of resilience to sorcery-speed removal and ground creatures. Two Lashwrithes should be enough to make just one attack lethal.



With this statement alone, you have disqualified this deck as budget.  What's more is that you also prove that you have no understanding of the term. 

Let me help you out here.  Budget means "inexpensive", not just "less expensive than other options."  While that definition can still be somewhat subjective depending on individual income, you really need to take into consideration that a huge portion of Magic players are either younger kids or students who don't have a lot of income to begin with, or are older players who do have jobs, but who also have responsibilities, obligations, and expenses that take priority over a card game.  When you practically admit that you don't care how much the deck costs in absolute terms, as long as it's cost is relatively lower than other decks in existence, you ignore the concerns of all of these players.  And while you may call that "budget,"  calling it so does not make it true.

Especially nowadays, in a time with so much financial upheaval and uncertainty in the world, when many people have to cut down on luxuries like games and hobbies, it would be wise to truly understand what it means to build on a budget.  At least, it would be if you intend to not alienate a lot of potential readers (and customers). 

Others who have gone before you have managed to present decks that were fun, inexpensive, and at least somewhat competitive (good enough for FNM, which is what a lot of readers seem to be looking for here); you should do the same.  If you find that you are incapable of that, then you should move on to something else, or at the very least, rename the article, because it stopped being about building on a budget quite some time ago.
I love BoaB cuz I can always hop on and see what cool deck I could try to put together. The problem with this week was that I'm already rolling a mono-black infect deck and I do agree that it's really good right now. But it's already a archtype.. I used to enjoy off the wall decks from this article, Beastmaster deck did really well when I played it in FNM(2nd place) but if you want to look into competive decks that are budget in comparrison or metagame choice then  I think the column would be better if a handful of ideas for the same deck were presented, like for this deck this version can do well against aggro decks and tokens but has trouble with control. The version I'm running does well against control AND aggro. If you were to post multiple ideas of the same deck then more people would benefit from the article.
My EDH decks: Azami, Lady of Scrolls
I agree with previous sentiments: the problem here is the article's title.  Instead of 'Building on a Budget' it should be something like 'Tier 2 Deck Workshop.'

Honestly for me a budget deck is using the commons and uncommons I already have and throwing down $20 on some rares.  Only in very rare instances will I pay more than $5 for a single card.  For a lot of us $100 is an entire month's gaming budget.  No way I'd blow all that on ONE magic deck.
Jacob,

If standard is too expensive to make a decent deck, pick a different format.  Innistrad block constructed is shaping up to be a 3 deck meta, pauper is always an option (Delver of secrets!  Blazing torch is a common now (and so is trinket mage)!  The "get back two zombies" card can get back two Nameless inversion!).  See how Innistrad has opened up other formats!

Sincerely,
Benbuzz

I usually constrain my comments to the YMTC boards, but there are a lot of polite and insightful things written in this here thread that you WOTC people should read and take seriously.  Most of these folks just want a deck they can reasonable swing around at thier local FNM without having to sacrifice thier children's food.

The different formats thing is worth pursuing too.
Especially considering it's Building on a Budget, it's hard to believe the full playset of Inkmoth Nexus is necessary. And Skithiryx got sideboarded out after the first match even.

-2 Inkmoth
-2 Skithiryx
+4 Ichor Rats

There, that's like 50 bucks knocked off the top.

One thing that could be nice would be to remind the readers what cards from the featured deck are recycled from a previously featured deck. For example, Phyrexian Crusader, Lashwrithe and Despise showed up a few columns ago in "Knight of the Living Dead". So if people are using Building on a Budget as a buyer's guide, that's $30+ they don't have to spend this time around. $50 if you keep Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon.
One thing that could be nice would be to remind the readers what cards from the featured deck are recycled from a previously featured deck. For example, Phyrexian Crusader, Lashwrithe and Despise showed up a few columns ago in "Knight of the Living Dead". So if people are using Building on a Budget as a buyer's guide, that's $30+ they don't have to spend this time around. $50 if you keep Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon.

There's a good point to be made there, and one I missed making when I posted earlier. I do recall hearing JVL refer to certain cards as a good investment - that is, it's not just playability he's concerning himself with, but replayability. A $20 card that you can reasonably use in 4 decks is roughly as 'budget' as a $5 card you can only use in one; I've seen his columns being mindful of that fact in the past, and I think it's a good idea to make those sorts of considerations in a budget-oriented article.

But the key issue is still that the readers have very different values from the writer; JVL has indicated that being competitive is the kind of value he appreciates most, and so his articles obviously focus around getting the most competitive decks you can, for the amount of money invested - and getting more for your money is certainly 'budget'-friendly. It's important to realise that, given how he appears to value decks, he wouldn't consider a cheap, non-competitive deck 'budget' - because the lower investment is producing even lower value (which, again, he measures in terms of competitiveness), which would feel to him like a rip-off. He's aiming to help you get the most of your Magic-related investments, not just to help you spend as little as possible.

I really do hope he'll put some extra effort into considering his readership's values, though; as difficult as it is, with all the differing opinions floating about. I don't doubt at all that he can make some changes that will please the current readership, but it'll require him considering things in a way that doesn't necessarily come naturally to him - understanding that even though he doesn't value non-competitive decks highly, some do, and that that 'some' happens to be particularly dominant (or particularly vocal, at least) among his audience. But it's always tough trying to appeal to an audience unlike yourself; as capable as I think he is, I don't envy him the position at all...
I hate to sound like a broken record but what most of the people here are saying is true. More budget, more innovation, more fun. Reading an article about a deck that is already being played but with slightly less expensive or useful cards is pretty boring. While some people might say that making a "budget" deck is easy if you don't have to worry about being competitve because you can just slap anything together, they are wrong. Just because a deck isn't competitive doesn't mean it doesn't have to be a good deck. Placing monetary restrictions (or any other restrictions for that matter) on a deck and then building it to the best of one's ability is what made this article so fun to read in the past. The pressure of having a budget means the deck builder has to come up with solutions other people would have never thought of and thus leads to innovation.

Restrictions on a build have always made things interesting. Why else would Commander/EDH be such a popular format? Interesting things happen with restrictions, so bring it back. If not then I agree with the others that this column's name should be changed. I think "Going Rogue" was my favorite that I've seen so far but others are good to.

Oh! Almost forgot. Why not just put a poll at the bottom of the next article that asks what the reader considers to be the highest price for a budget deck that they would be willing to spend?

Options should be something like

$0 - $10
$11 - $30
$31 - $50
$50 - $100
$100+

Perhaps we who are writing these pleas for a stricter budget are only the vocal few as opposed to the silent many, and if so I am prepared to be silent about his articles in the future. However if a majority are for a lower price range then I believe that JvL should adjust his article accordingly. He may be one to only like playing competitive decks but he shouldn't be writing articles for his own enjoyment, he should be writing articles for the enjoyment of his readers. Let the readers have a voiceand if he can't handle writing for his readers then I think WotC needs to find a new person to fill his shoes who will.
I agree with the budget concerns of many on here.  However, there are two major points I want to point out on this deck.
1) The price on this deck has spiked in the last two weeks.  I built something similiar two weeks ago when dragons were going for around $5 and crusaders could be had for under $4, and Inkmoth were available for $12-13.  Otherwise, there isn't a card over $2 in there.  Thats $40 boost or about 25% on the main drivers.  This article might have been writen and just late to the party.
2) There are variations of this deck such as top 4 in Ontario at States UB Infect that are more budget friendly running only 2 Inkmoth.  So this versions really doesn't help versus searching for top 8 results that some come in cheaper.

As far as theme of Column, guidelines are key.  With dual lands anywhere from $3-5 for M12 to $10-15 for Scars and Innistrad, deck prices can fly. 

Having dual lands and great lands is fine but not 4 of $20 lands.
But the key issue is still that the readers have very different values from the writer; JVL has indicated that being competitive is the kind of value he appreciates most, and so his articles obviously focus around getting the most competitive decks you can, for the amount of money invested - and getting more for your money is certainly 'budget'-friendly. It's important to realise that, given how he appears to value decks, he wouldn't consider a cheap, non-competitive deck 'budget' - because the lower investment is producing even lower value (which, again, he measures in terms of competitiveness), which would feel to him like a rip-off. He's aiming to help you get the most of your Magic-related investments, not just to help you spend as little as possible.



The problem is that the word for this is bargain, not budget.  Budget refers to a hard cap on what one can spend, while bargain denotes value per dollar.  It's entirely possible to have a good bargain that is not within a budget, and that is what Mr. Van Lunen seems to have a problem understanding.  Just because a deck is a good relative value does not mean that it is budget!

I hate to sound like a broken record but what most of the people here are saying is true. More budget, more innovation, more fun. Reading an article about a deck that is already being played but with slightly less expensive or useful cards is pretty boring. While some people might say that making a "budget" deck is easy if you don't have to worry about being competitve because you can just slap anything together, they are wrong. Just because a deck isn't competitive doesn't mean it doesn't have to be a good deck. Placing monetary restrictions (or any other restrictions for that matter) on a deck and then building it to the best of one's ability is what made this article so fun to read in the past. The pressure of having a budget means the deck builder has to come up with solutions other people would have never thought of and thus leads to innovation.



Exactly.  Take a cue from MaRo's mantra, "restrictions breed creativity" (or something to that effect).  All these articles have shown me is that JVL lacks the ability to be innovative, especially when he has been writing articles on decks that are already widely known and played (this week's black infect deck for example), or decks that build themselves with the themes worked into a particular block (G/R werewolves).  Lately it's felt like his efforts on this column have been half-hearted at best.

Perhaps we who are writing these pleas for a stricter budget are only the vocal few as opposed to the silent many, and if so I am prepared to be silent about his articles in the future. However if a majority are for a lower price range then I believe that JvL should adjust his article accordingly. He may be one to only like playing competitive decks but he shouldn't be writing articles for his own enjoyment, he should be writing articles for the enjoyment of his readers. Let the readers have a voiceand if he can't handle writing for his readers then I think WotC needs to find a new person to fill his shoes who will.

(boldface added for emphasis)

This, exactly this.  JVL needs to understand that he only has a job as long as people are interested in reading his articles.  As such, the articles need to reflect what his readers are looking for, not just what he personally finds useful or entertaining.  If he can't make the two mesh, and he can't put his own interest aside in favor of his readers', then it's time for him to find something else to do.

Decklist after decklist with $15 rares, cards that have rotated out of the format, minimal game recaps and strategy advice. Just simple anecdotes about why cards might be good in the deck.

Easily the worst column on this site. It becomes more and more clear that JVL spends no time or effort constructing this column. I'm baffled that Wizards still employs him. This is nothing other than a stock mono black infect list that essentially everyone is already aware of. Additionally, there was no effort to making it more budget, or even offering suggestions as to how it could be made more budget. If JVL won't take the time to make budget articles, either hire someone else who will, or rename the column instead of repeatedly putting out this garbage.

I mean honestly, have you all no pride in your product?

Sheesh...
Jesus, the guy adds a couple extra Inkmoth Nexus this one time and you're trying to make like it's an epidemic of excess.

Let's not forget JVL gave us a red/blue "Rareless and Careless" deck that went toe-to-toe with Caw Blade in standard before Jace and Stoneforge got banned, and a 3-turn combo win in Modern with "New York Eggs" just a couple months ago. Go look up the price tag on these decks:

www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.a...
www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...

Constructive criticism or get out.
There's a good point to be made there, and one I missed making when I posted earlier. I do recall hearing JVL refer to certain cards as a good investment - that is, it's not just playability he's concerning himself with, but replayability. A $20 card that you can reasonably use in 4 decks is roughly as 'budget' as a $5 card you can only use in one; I've seen his columns being mindful of that fact in the past, and I think it's a good idea to make those sorts of considerations in a budget-oriented article.

The problem is that a lot of people who genuinely build on a budget aren't going to build multiple decks. It's fine for JVL to claim replayability as justification for an expensive card, since he builds a deck every single week. Most of us don't do that. For the people who build one, maybe two decks per set, or even per year, it doesn't matter that Inkmoth can go in five, six, ten of JVL's "budget" decks, since we'll only build one of those decks.

Jesus, the guy adds a couple extra Inkmoth Nexus this one time and you're trying to make like it's an epidemic of excess.

It wasn't just this once. This isn't the first time he's thrown a full playset of Inkmoth Nexuses into a supposedly budget deck. And even disregarding that, the problem many of the posters have here isn't restricted to this one instance, or this one card. It's his continuing disregard for any semblance of a budget, coupled with his statement this week that he will continue to build competitive decks without following a set budget. That's not what the column Building on a Budget is about.
I support the idea others have raised of changing this article's name to "Going Rogue" and making it something more suited to JVL's talents and preferences. Of course, if they do this I hope they hire a new author and do a new Budget deck column to replace Building on a Budget. If they don't make this change, then JVL will simply have to actually follow the spirit of the column and heed a budget, or he should resign.

Let's not forget JVL gave us a red/blue "Rareless and Careless" deck that went toe-to-toe with Caw Blade in standard before Jace and Stoneforge got banned, and a 3-turn combo win in Modern with "New York Eggs" just a couple months ago. Go look up the price tag on these decks:

I'm more than willing to give credit where credit is due. He has, in the past, built some interesting and, more importantly, genuinely budget decks. The problem remains, however, that it is his job to do this every week, so throwing a couple of examples of him having done it isn't enough. He's a talented deck-builder, but if he's not building budget decks every week, he's not doing his job properly.

Constructive criticism or get out.

Most of what people are saying here is constructive criticism. I'm seeing a lot of suggestions for how to improve the column, or suggestions to Wizards on how to best utilize JVL's talents. Just a few suggestions so far:
-Change the article name to "Going Rogue" or similar.
-A poll at the end of next article to get a general idea of what the majority of his readers consider budget.
-Taking into account that not all of his readers care as much about the deck's competitiveness as he does.
-Suggestions for variations on deck-building, such as Pauper or Event Deck Evolution, that would by their very nature be budget-friendly.
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/c6f9e416e5e0e1f0a1e5c42b0c7b3e88.jpg?v=90000)
the guy adds a couple extra Inkmoth Nexus this one time and you're trying to make like it's an epidemic of excess.

Let's not forget JVL gave us a red/blue "Rareless and Careless" deck that went toe-to-toe with Caw Blade in standard before Jace and Stoneforge got banned, and a 3-turn combo win in Modern with "New York Eggs" just a couple months ago. Go look up the price tag on these decks:

www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.a...
www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...



Two budget decks does not a budget column make, and two exceptions do not negate the majority of decks which have become the rule.

Constructive criticism or get out.



You seem to understand the words "constructive criticism" about as well as JVL understands "budget."  There have been plenty of constructive yet critical observations and recommendations about what this column is, what it is not, and what it should (or could) be.  Comments like "constructive criticism or get out" are by far the least constructive posts in this thread.